Action to reduce food waste within the European Union remains ‘fragmented and intermittent,’ a report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has claimed.
According to the ECA report published today (17 January), which examined EU measures on reducing food waste and how its various policy instruments work, coordination at European Commission level is lacking.
The ECA is responsible for auditing the EU’s finances and has claimed the latest EU proposal for dealing with food waste, the EU Platform on Food Losses and Food Waste, does not fully address the challenges involved in dealing with the waste stream.
The European Commission launched its food waste platform last year, in a bid to improve communication between member states on work to tackle food waste (see letsrecycle.com story).
However, the ECA report claimed that progress has been hampered by the lack of a common definition of food waste or an agreed baseline from which to target reductions, despite repeated calls from the European Parliament, the Council, the Committee of the Regions, the G20 and others for the EU to help reduce food waste.
Bettina Jakobsen, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report, said: “Our report to the Commission identified a number of missed opportunities and potential improvements which would not require new legislative initiatives or more public money.
“But by focusing its efforts on establishing a platform, the Commission again misses an opportunity to deal effectively with the problem. What we need now is better alignment of existing policies, better coordination, and a clear policy objective to reduce food waste.”
Mrs Jakobsen added: “Our recommendations on how to develop future policy have either been ignored or only partially accepted, while the draft guidelines just pass the problem on to the Member States.”
Examining how current policies could be used more effectively, the auditors’ report recommended that the Commission strengthen and better coordinate the EU strategy to combat food waste, with an action plan and a clear definition of food waste.
The auditors also found that there had been a lack of impact assessment of EU policies on tackling food waste. Major policy areas such as agriculture, fisheries and food safety should have a role to play, the report noted.
Noting that food waste is a problem along the entire food supply chain, the auditors said action should be targeted all along the chain but the emphasis should on prevention, as the benefits of avoiding waste outweigh the cost of dealing with it later.